What comes to your mind when you think about God?
Do you think of a Zeus-like figure looming over you from the heavens? A mysterious, nebulous shape? Do you picture a bearded Jesus?
Or maybe power? Grace? Love?
A.W. Tozer says “what comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us… the most [determining] fact about any man is not what he at any given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like.”
J.D. Greear shared this quote in his recent article “Six Secrets That Will Transform the Way You Pray.” He goes on to tell the story of a powerful speech Solomon, the wisest man on earth, gave in 1 Kings 8. In this passage, Solomon is praying as he dedicates his new temple to the Lord, and we can glean many insights from how he prays and who he knows God to be.
There are six key qualities of God that Greear pulls from Solomon’s prayer that will help us to not only transform what we think about him, but improve how we pray to him.
- “God is a mysterious-yet-accessible God (1 Kings 8:12-13).” It can be challenging to hold both of these truths simultaneously in our minds-- we often default to one or the other when it comes to how we view God. Greear says we “constantly minimize God and downplay his glory. We want him to be approachable, but we don’t like him being mysterious.” Remembering that God is both unable to be fully understood by our human minds but able to be accessed by our human hearts is essential.
- “God is a narrowly-accessible God (1 Kings 8:27-29).” In verse 29, we see that God has said he will be in the temple that Solomon built, much like he is in our churches and places of worship today. We must meet him in the places where he has told us he will be found. “If you are going to experience the blessing of God, you have to be committed to the church,” Greear writes.
- “God is a promise-keeping God (1 Kings 8:15, 56).” Verse 15 says “God has fulfilled the promise by his power” and that phrase is repeated often throughout Solomon’s prayer. We can rest assured in full confidence that God is a promise maker and a promise keeper. “Wisdom means aligning your life around the promises of God,” says Greear.
- “God is a grace-extending God (1 Kings 8:46-50).” The core message of Solomon’s prayer is that humans are broken people who need God’s grace. Where animals were once sacrificed to atone for the sins of the people, Jesus has now paid the ultimate sacrifice for all of us to be forgiven and made right in the presence of God. “When we walk into the presence of God,” Greear writes, “we can stand on ground soaked in the blood of Jesus.”
- “God is a justice-conscious God (1 Kings 8:32).” God is just. We often feel like things in our lives or our world are unjust and unfair, and while we might try to fight to make amends or make things right, we can never fully be justified on our own strength. “Only entrusting justice to God can renew your life and lift your weary heart,” writes Greear.
- “God is an outward-focused God (1 Kings 8:41-43).” It is so easy for us to become inwardly focused, thinking mainly of our own needs, problems, fears, and successes. God, however, constantly reminds his people to be caring for others, to be looking out for the orphans and widows, to be extending hospitality toward the refugee and the lost, to be gracious and compassionate toward our neighbors. “Because he cares about the outsiders, God is furious when we treat the church as if it is all about us,” says Greear. Remembering God’s heart for what we deem as the “other” will transform our own hearts to be more gracious and generous.
So now, what comes to mind when you think about God?
The more we study Scripture and soak up the words of wise men and women who have followed him loyally, the more our own hearts and minds are transformed in our understanding of who God is and how he loves us.
Knowing God more fully will enable us to pray more deeply. Understanding God more completely will radically change how we live our lives, love our neighbors, and build the Kingdom of God here on earth.
Today, remember as you pray that God is mysterious yet accessible. God is found in our churches. God is a promise maker and a promise keeper. God extends grace to you. God is just. And God loves the outsiders and is generous toward us all.
Photo credit: Unsplash
Publication date: October 27, 2017
Rachel Dawson is the design editor for Crosswalk.com.